3on3 Freestyle Review: Ball Up and Rise
Chad Whitney / Mar 8th, 2017 No Comments
The demand for a new NBA Street has yet to be satisfied. However, Korean studio Joycity has delivered a third title in the successful Freestyle series. This time, the game can be enjoyed on consoles.
3on3 Freestyle is a free-to-play fast-paced arcade-style half-court street basketball game exclusively for PlayStation 4. Featuring 15 diverse male and female characters, 3on3 Freestyle provides gamers with a wealth of ways to master the blacktop.
It is clear from the title screen that 3on3 Freestyle is lighthearted and intended for an audience of all ages. The game begins with Joey, the cover athlete, endlessly missing shots and chasing down his own rebound until the player presses a button. Then, Joey slams down a dunk. Welcome to 3on3 Freestyle. Queue smooth jazz rap song.
Players are welcomed to a practice court where they can get familiar with any of their unlocked characters. The vibrant colors and warm lighting create a welcoming atmosphere as the blockheaded NPCs wander in and out of the park. They look like less crude Minecraft characters. Highlighting the detail displayed in the game, there are no duplicate NPCs in the background of practice or matches, as each has a unique style and design.
Of course, the playable characters have their own over-the-top style as well, allowing players to develop favorites. Aside from the default outfits worn by characters, players have the freedom to purchase jerseys or themed outfits that can be assigned to the characters of their choice. Also, a partnership with Ball Up, the number one street basketball brand in America, and Risewear, an athleisure line featuring sneakers and apparel, brings branded sneakers to the game.
Step Up to the Streets
While it’s no NBA Street, 3on3 Freestyle is a fun game. Currently, there are two game modes: three-on-three and one-on-one. Players choose a character before entering a match.
Part of the game’s strategy is team composition. Each character plays a specific position, like point guard or small forward, making it imperative for teammates to coordinate their choice based on preferred playstyle and team need. Every character’s strengths come at the cost of a weakness. For instance, some players have more stamina and move more quickly, but lack defense or rebounding skills.
Where this gets tricky is in playing multiplayer. Unless teammates have decided to group up before the matchmaking process begins, it isn’t until a match is successfully joined that the player can see what character the other players have selected. Thankfully, teams have the option of changing characters during timeouts and at halftime.
There are options like, “can I choose?” and “good choice” that make it easy to communicate who should play which role in case anyone doesn’t have their microphone activated. Chat options aren’t exclusive breaks in the game, however. During play, players can quickly say things like “sorry” and “good job/try” out of a chat wheel.
Matches are comprised of two four-minute halves. Unlike other games, 3on3 Freestyle is played on a half court, with an energetic crowd cheering the players on from the sidelines. Street Fighter style music keeps the tempo high as teams jostle for the lead. An obvious gameplay comparison is NBA Street. However, it would be more accurate to think of the game as an NBA Jam and NBA Street hybrid. The ability to change characters at points within the game and the simple one-button crossover moves is similar to NBA Jam, while most other significant features are in the mold of NBA Street.
Aside from that, 3on3 Freestyle does have its own identifying features. Though there are no NBA players licensed in the game, the 15 playable characters possess unique skills and traits that can be leveled up with points collected from playing matches or through purchase, much like NBA 2K’s Virtual Currency. One of the major promotions in the game is Joycity’s collaboration with two iconic urban apparel brands. Ball Up and Risewear shoes, as well as the other apparel, are considered premium content, requiring the player to spend real-world money on premium coins. Premium coins can also be spent on points.
For a free-to-play game, 3on3 Freestyle is worth the download, but without purchasing premium coins, leveling up can be a grind. However, short games reward players with points generously in comparison to NBA 2K17’s MyCareer mode. Purchasing the largest amount of premium content will certainly give players the ability to stand out from the crowd, but will not be enough to completely level up a character. It would take a lot of micro-transactions and well over $50 to bypass the need to earn points and ascend to legend status.
As can be expected, the free-to-play nature of the game connects teammates with a range of personalities and playstyles. More often than not, these teammates are selfish ball hogs, and the pursuit of match MVP only encourages the inevitable selfish nature of online players.
One of the more appealing features is that the game allows for same-couch co-op, meaning, like in the days of old, players can link up in the same room, making for a pretty fun pre-bar drinking game. The option to stay together as a team after matches makes it simple to keep quality players together when you finally find them. Unfortunately, these chemistry-oriented partnerships are short lived. 3on3 Freestyle seems to be a game where many can appreciate finding good teammates, but few are willing to send an actual PlayStation Network friend request.
All in all, 3on3 Freestyle is fun for everyone. The characters and music do a great job of setting the atmosphere, and short matches slow down the stale feeling that comes with playing a free-to-play game repetitively.
tags: 3on3 , 3on3 Freestyle , 3on3 Freestyle Basketball , 3on3 Freestyle Review , review